Couple bring southern charm to Saukville restaurant

Dallas and Sara Cook, who owned eateries in Florida, plan to open MJ’s Bar and Grill in former firehouse

SAUKVILLE’S NEWEST RESTAURANT is MJ’s, which will open March 13 at the corner of South Main Street and Dekora Street. The restaurant will be owned and operated by Sara and Dallas Cook, restaurateurs who recently moved to the area from Florida. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

There’s a new player in the Saukville restaurant scene.

Dallas and Sara Cook are opening MJ’s Bar and Grill, which will be housed in what decades ago was the village’s fire station, on Monday, March 13.

“Saukville has a lot of bars,” Dallas said. “We’re trying to gear away from just being a bar. We’re trying to be a great place for food with a great family atmosphere.”

The restaurant at 100 S. Main St. will feature American cuisine, everything from steak, ribs, pot roast and fish fries to a full menu of salads and sandwiches, Cook said.

“All of our stuff is going to be homemade,” he said.

The restaurant will also have a gluten-free menu, with the food prepared at a separate prep station so there’s no chance of cross contamination, he said.

“We’ve met a lot of people who are gluten free,” Cook said, noting the menu is named Kylie’s Gluten Free Option after his daughter’s best friend, who has celiac disease.

Every week there will be a different menu of specials, Cook said, and every six months the menu will turn over.

“We want to give people a big variety of foods,” he said, adding it’s a concept that’s worked well for him in the past.

While they may not want to be known as a tavern, the restaurant will have a bar with a selection of craft beers, cocktails and wines to meet every budget, he said.

The restaurant, which most recently was Mexican Firehouse, will be decorated in what Cook calls a Victorian industrial theme.

It’s a concept he said he’s familiar with, noting there are a few of these restaurants in the South, where he hails from.

“It’s something different,” he said. “It’s a very clean, clean look. It’s very open, modern.

“It’s something different, but the best thing is the food.”

The ambiance will be funky, Cook said, with something interesting everywhere you look.

In documents filed with the village, they said the theme is “something you will talk about days after you have left. We wanted something that would draw in both local residents as well as guests from afar just to see what all the fuss is about.”

To create the look, Cook said, they remodeled the interior of the building.

“It’s completely different inside,” he said. “We put in some long days.”

They kept the layout but tore out the built-in furniture, including the elevated booths that lined the walls of the eatery, he said. Banquette seating and tables will fill the dining area.

In the summer, there will also be service on the patio, according to documents filed with the village.

Cook, who will handle the kitchen and back of the house operations, is no stranger to restaurant life, nor is his wife.

Sara worked in the industry since she was 16 and recently was one of the managers who helped open Toast in Cedarburg, he said. She and her sister Shannon Vieth will manage the front of the house operations.

He owned a couple of restaurants in Florida, where the couple lived until recently, opening his first eatery when he was 17 with help from his father.

His most recent restaurant was in the Florida Keys, Cook said, and a liquor store and a short-term rental house were incorporated into the building.

But he and his wife decided to move to Wisconsin because they have two young children —Marina, 11, and Lynn, 8 — and the schools here are better than in Florida, Cook said.

Sara’s mother lives in Saukville, so it was a natural landing place for the young family, he said.

“We’ve been looking for a building here for a while,” he said.

The couple bought the restaurant building on Dec. 29 and with the help of family have been spending their free time renovating the building.

They named the restaurant MJ’s after their daughter Marina Jane, Cook said.

The family wants to become part of the community and make the restaurant a focal point as well, he said.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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